I’m one of those spouses who WANTS to know exactly what happens in war. I don’t know how common that is, because I have heard both sides: needing to know and not wanting to know. It all depends on personality and your coping style, but my coping style definitely hates being left in the dark.
I’m the Army wife who is attracted like a magnet to the TV when the word “Afghanistan” or “terrorism” is mentioned; I’m the Army wife who watches documentaries like Battleground Afghanistan and Restrepo; I’m the Army wife who would prefer to read a raw, honest saga of a journalist embedded with fighting soldiers, rather than the latest issue of “Military Spouse Magazine.” (Disclaimer: That is not a rip against the magazine, it IS a great resource and I enjoy their articles!)
Furthermore, I don’t just want to know what happens in war generally. I want to know specifically what is happening to my own soldier. I know to not pepper him with TOO many questions, but when he opens up about combat (whether it’s about his previous tour or his current one) I listen attentively and soak up every word. I want a visual picture painted in my head. I want to know when things get really bad. But most of all, I want to understand what he is going through.
But that is where I get tripped up and frustrated. The cold fact is that I will NEVER understand. No matter how many times he repeats his stories, no matter how deep he may let me look into his soul, I will NEVER GET IT. Only another veteran can completely understand him. Only another veteran can look at his eyes and know the pain he’s suffered. Only another veteran can say, “I get it. I know.”
I DON’T know, and during Mark’s first deployment that especially caused me great anguish because it was a very rough tour. He was violently engaged with the enemy. He was knocked out in a rollover accident. He had to shoot a puppy to death because it might have been rabid. He looked death in the face numerous times. Those are things I cannot fathom, even though I wish I could. There have been times I’ve truly wished I could go to Afghanistan, just so I could understand him better. In all honesty, if I had the opportunity to travel there as an embedded journalist, I would. And at one point, I was trying to get a contractor job over there so I could quickly pay off my student loans…but also so I could see a TINY bit of reality.
However, one of the puzzle pieces to being a good military wife is to understand what my role is. My role is to be his support, his rock, his love. My role entails being patient, unshakeable, and a good listener. He may be a warrior in the traditional sense of the word (his name even means “God’s Warrior”), but in my own way, I am a warrior too. We each have unique warrior qualities that complement each other and give strength where the other is weak. Even after our military life is over, we will fearlessly face life head-on….together.